Зображення сторінки

hero, instructed by an oracle to seek the rays of morning, followed the sound of a Cyclops' hammer till he reached Lemnos, where Vulcan, taking pity on him, gave him Cedalion, one of his men, to be his guide to the abode of the sun. Placing Cedalion on his shoulders, Orion proceeded to the east, and there meeting the sun-god, was restored to sight by his beam."

After this he dwelt as a hunter with the queen of the echoing chase ; and it was even hinted that she loved him. Her brother, highly displeased, often chid her, but to no purpose. One day, therefore, observing Orion as he waded through the sea, with his head.just above the water, Apollo pointed out the black object to his sister, and maintained that she could not hit it. The archergoddess discharged a shaft with fatal aim : the waves rolled the dead body of Orion to the land. Then bewailing her fatal error with many tears, Diana placed him among the stars, where he appears as a giant, with a girdle, sword, lion's skin, and club. Sirius, his dog, follows him, and the Pleiads fly before him. In the beginning of winter, all through the night, Orion follows the chase across the heavens; but with dawn he sinks toward the waters of his father Neptune. In the beginning of summer, he may be seen with daybreak in the eastern sky, where, beloved by Aurora, he remains gradually paling before the light of day till, finally, Diana, jealous of his happiness, draws her gentle darts, and slays him.

§ 91. The Pleiads, who still fly before Orion in the heavens, were daughters of Atlas, and nymphs of Diana's train. . One day Orion saw them in Boeotia, became enamoured of them, and gave pursuit. In their distress they prayed to the gods to change their form. Jupiter, accordingly, turned them into pigeons, and made them a constellation. Though their number was seven, only six stars are visible ; for Electra, it is said, left her place that she might not behold the ruin of Troy, which had been founded by her son Dardanus. The sight had such an effect on her sisters

1 Apollodorus, I. 4. § 3. 2 Ovid, Fasti, 5: 537; Iliad, 18:486, and 22: 29; Odys. 5:121, 274. 3 The story is told by Hyginus in his Fables, and in his Poetical Astronomy.

that they blanched, and have been pale ever since. But Electra became a comet; her hair floating wildly behind her, she still


inconsolably ranges the expanse of heaven. According to some, the lost Pleiad is Merope, who was vested with mortality in con

sequence of her marriage with the mortal Sisyphus, king of Corinth.

Tennyson's reference to the Pleiads, in “Locksley Hall,” is of course familiar to all readers.

$ 92. Endymion. — The frequent absence of Diana from her duties in heaven is said to have awakened suspicion among the deities of Olympus, who doubted whether she actually occupied these intervals with hunting. It is easy to imagine the satisfaction with which Venus, who so often had been reproached by Diana with her undue fondness of beautiful youths, would welcome news of a corresponding weakness on the part of the cold-hearted and apparently unyielding huntress-queen. And such satisfaction Venus once enjoyed, if we may trust the later classical, and the modern, poets who have identified Diana with Selene, the more ancient goddess of the moon.

For one calm, clear night, Selene looked down upon the beautiful Endymion, who fed his flock on Mount Latmos; and saw him sleeping. The heart of the goddess was unquestionably warmed by his surpassing beauty. She came down to him; she kissed him ; she watched over him while he slept. She visited him again and again. But her secret could not long be hidden from the company of Olympus. For more and more frequently she was absent from her station in the sky; and toward morning she was ever paler and more weary with her watching. When, finally, her love was discovered, Jupiter gave Endymion, who had been thus honored, a choice between death in any manner that was preferable, or perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Endymion chose the latter. He still sleeps in his Carian cave, and still the mistress of the moon slips from her nocturnal course to visit him. She takes care, too, that his fortunes shall not suffer by his inactive life : she yields his flock increase, and guards his sheep and lambs from beasts of prey.

1 Authorities are Pausanias, 5, 1. § 2-4; Ovid, Ars. Am. 3:83; Tristia, 2: 299; Apollonius, and Apollodorus.

Keats, whose Endymion journeys on a mission under sea, thus describes a meeting of the goddess and her lover :

On gold sand impearled
With lily shells and pebbles milky white,
Poor Cynthia greeted him, and soothed her light
Against his pallid face: he felt the charm
To breathlessness, and suddenly a warm
Of his heart's blood: 'twas very sweet; he stayed
His wandering steps, and half-entranced laid
His head upon a tuft of straggling weeds,
To taste the gentle moon, and freshening beads,
Lashed from the crystal roof by fishes' tails.
And so he kept, until the rosy veils,
Mantling the east, by Aurora's peering hand
Were listed from the water's breast, and fanned
Into sweet air; and sobered morning came
Meekly through billows: — when like taper-flame
Left sudden by a dallying breath of air,
He rose in silence, and once more 'gan fare
Along his fated way.1


$ 93. Round the goddess of love cluster romances of her own tender passion, of the affairs of the winged Cupid, and of the loves of the worshippers at her shrine. Of the affection of Venus for Mars and of her relations with Anchises, the father of Æneas, mention is elsewhere made. The following is the myth of Venus and Adonis.

Adonis.? — The sweetly smiling goddess, playing one day with her boy Cupid, wounded her bosom with one of his arrows. Before the wound healed, she looked upon Adonis, the son of Cinyras and Myrrha, and was captivated by him. She no longer took any interest in her favorite resorts, — Paphos, and Cnidos, and Amathus, rich in metals. She absented herself even from

[ocr errors]

Olympus, for Adonis was dearer to her than heaven. Him she followed, and bore him company. She who loved to recline in the shade, with no care but to cultivate her charms, now rambled through the woods and over the hills, girt like the huntress Diana. She chased game that is safe to hunt, but kept clear of the wolves and bears. She charged Adonis, too, to beware of dangerous animals. “Be brave toward the timid,” she would say, "courage against the courageous is not safe.” Having thus, on one occasion, warned him, she mounted her chariot drawn by swans, and drove away through the air. But Adonis was too noble to heed such counsels. The dogs had roused a wild boar from his lair ; and the youth threw his spear, and wounded the animal with a sidelong stroke. The beast drew out the weapon with his jaws, and rushing after Adonis, buried his tusks in the lad's side, and stretched him dying upon the plain. The rest of the story is thus recounted :


THE LAMENT FOR ADONIS.1 ... Low on the hills is lying the lovely Adonis, and his thigh with the boar's tusk, his white thigh with the boar's tusk is wounded; and sorrow on Cypris he brings, as softly he breathes his life away.

His dark blood drips down his skin of snow, beneath his brows his eyes

1 From an elegy intended to be sung at one of the spring celebrations in memory of Adonis. Translated from Bion by Andrew Lang. Cypris, Cytherea, and the Paphian refer to Venus. See Commentary. This elegy is also translated by Mrs. Browning and by Sir Edwin Arnold.

« НазадПродовжити »